When's the right time to play with other musicians?

JDFaulky

Well-known member
Hey everyone,

I'm a "new-ish" drummer who's creeping up into the intermediate range. I was self taught for over a year and spent the last 4 months working with a drum teacher to help accelerate my learning. I didn't pick up my first acoustic kit until I was 35 years old (I'm a month shy of 37 now) but I spent all of my 20s playing on e-kits and such while living in apartments where I learned a lot of drum fundamentals on my own. Thanks to that, I took off running on the drums pretty quickly once I started playing on a real kit.

My question to you all is this; when is the right time to start playing with other musicians? My drum teacher seems to think I'm more than ready since I've nailed just about everything he's thrown at me so far, but the anxiety of getting in front of other musicians and totally blowing it really freaks me out. Like I think I'm better than I actually am and get told to take a hike or something. I'm just curious to hear stories from other drummers when they first made the leap to join a band or play with other musicians.

I did get the courage to put myself out there on a local musicians Facebook group with a little video of me playing and I got a lot of messages from people asking me to potentially join their bands. Most of them didn't seem like a good fit; however, I did set up a time on Saturday to meet up with a bass and guitar player who are in need of a drummer to have a jam session. Still, I'm kinda freaked out about it (especially since I don't know these people) while at the same time excited that I'm making some dreams come true here. I guess I'm wondering at what the point where many of you had the confidence to put yourself out there as a drummer?
 

BGDurham

Well-known member
Yes, right now. Just tell the others you are new to playing with others and they'll give you some pointers along the way. You'll probably be anxious and make mistakes; keep playing, they will understand and be patient with you. Play simple grooves and simple fills, hold off on complicated licks until you get comfortable. Have fun!
 

bongoman

Junior Member
Grohl makes a point of telling how he and his bandmates totally sucked. They went into a literal shed in the literal woods and played badly. They kept doing it until they didn’t suck anymore (not too badly anyway).

It is already and always the right time to play with others (in a covid safe manner). Just find others who are at a similar level to you, or who are not too concerned about your skill level. That’s the best way to become a better musician.
 

MntnMan62

Junior Member
Who cares if you suck. Given the comments of your teacher I would bet you don't suck. Anytime is the right time to play with other musicians. The main thing is to try and find a group that has a similar goal and expectation from the jamming. If you just want to have fun but don't want the pressure to be out gigging within a specific time frame, then you want to find a group that wants the same thing. There is really only one goal that you should have from playing with other musicians at this point. Just have fun. If you don't put all sorts of pressure on yourself then you'll have fun and will learn all at the same time. And then if someone says "Hey, I got us a gig at Joe's Pub in a month", you'll be into it and will look forward to it. Look at me. I'm 58, have been playing for 45 years and I still suck. But I have fun. Unless you are going to Berkley and playing drums 12 to 15 hours a day and not thinking about much of anything else, you have no reason to put any pressure on yourself. And don't get discouraged if the first time isn't a match. It takes some time find people you have things in common with musically and are at a similar level. I remember when I was in my college years I sought out any kind of playing situation I could find. Even if I wasn't totally into the music, I figured so long as I was playing, it would make me a better more versatile player. And that was pretty much true. Now that I'm old, I have to find old farts like myself who still want to play and have some hearing left. Not as easy to find. But I'll never give up. There just isn't anything like the feeling of "connecting" with another player on a musical level. The interplay and the feeling that you create turning each of your instruments into something that is greater than the sum of the parts is like nothing else. If I were to give you any advice for that first time playing with others is listen. Listen to what they are doing and then do what you've been practicing all this time and it will probably mesh. Go for it.
 

beatdat

Senior Member
Now.

Why, not? Well, it's just art. Like Bob Marley said, "the best thing about music is that, when it hits you, no one gets hurt".

What are you scared of?
 

JDFaulky

Well-known member
Now.

Why, not? Well, it's just art. Like Bob Marley said, "the best thing about music is that, when it hits you, no one gets hurt".

What are you scared of?

The only thing I'm afraid of really is rejection. If I didn't think I was a competent player then I wouldn't have put myself out there like I did, and obviously people thought I was decent enough judging from the video I posted or I wouldn't have gotten the number of responses that I did. Still, it's basically the unknown of it all. I've been pretty confident up till now, especially after I hired a drum teacher and received validation from him, but other musicians thinking I suck at drums and telling me to kick rocks would be a huge bummer. Still, I don't see how I can grow as a drummer unless I play with other musicians. I can only play to backing tracks for so long here, haha.
 

JDFaulky

Well-known member
Jamming with friends (as opposed to strangers) is a lot less stressful in the beginning. Do you know anyone who plays bass or guitar? Maybe a co-worker?

I don't, unfortunately. Hence why I was looking for some folks locally. I did vet out a lot of people who seemed like they weren't for me, so there is that.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Just do it. It's not a big deal unless you make it one. As for sucking, it's just a state of mind. You are playing some drums, not building a house. It isnt important.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
As long as you can play a money beat without falling apart after a few bars, you're ready to play with other people. Just play with other people who are aware of and okay with your level. If COVID allows, open jams are good places to stretch your wings. Well run ones will match you up with appropriate players, and it's a great way to learn.
 

Jml

Senior Member
I felt the same way when I started playing drums a couple of years ago - at the age of 49. Went to lessons for 6 months, then reached out to join a band on Craigslist. Now I’m in 2 bands, have played gigs in multiple venues and 3 different churches. Go for it. You’re probably better than a lot of drummers out there. Nothing can compare to the joy of playing music with others.
 

moodman

Well-known member
You're right, you can only grow as a drummer by playing with other musicians. Just do what you know drum-wise, listen to the whole band and remember that sweet dynamics are stronger than mad chops. While the best advice is to play with the best players that you can, (they lift and enable you), players of the same skill level work well together. What you learn about dynamics and interaction by playing with others will give you confidence and authority, there is no other way to learn these things. If you make a mistake, forget it and finish the song right. You wanna be totally serious and not give a damn at the same time.
 
The only thing I'm afraid of really is rejection.
That can always happen. If ten drummers audition for a job/college/..., only one will make it, but that doesn't mean that the other nine drummers were terrible. Nobody can be the perfect drummer for every situation. If they tell you that you suck, they're just jerks. It has to work on a musical and a personal level.
Remember, that other musicians are in the same situation - the guitarist probably won't be able to play everything from Metal to Salsa perfectly, so they can't expect that you can instantly play everything that they throw at you. You mentioned in your Facebook post that you're new to this, so if they want to give it a shot, then just do it. Have some fun, connect with local players and find out what you would like to improve. :)
 

iCe

Senior Member
I started out with playing with friends after roughly playing drums for 2 1/2 or 3 years or so. I was perfectly content with playing along with records until some friends wanted to form a band a heard that i played drums. Was i good at that point? Well no, but i could keep a steady beat (even started fiddling around with a double pedal) and i think playing in bands is a great opportunity to further develop your skills. Learned a lot in those first few years, mainly trusting on your own internal metronome and not to speed up when the rest is doing that.

First few times playing in front of other people i had my heart beating in my throat. I was that nervous! But after a while i got used to it and it doesn't bother me now anymore. I still get excited, but after all those years i'm now comfortable behind the kit and can enjoy everything that is happening around me without being too much focused on keeping time (that's on automatic pilot now).

So jump in and have a good time! And remember to bring along a stick bag ;)
I dropped sticks so many times due to nervousness that a few spares made me finish the song with 2 sticks in my hands instead of one haha
 

Al Strange

Well-known member
All of the above!! Get out there and smash it! 😝I think I did my first cabaret gig after I’d been playing seriously for 6 months...my teacher encouraged me to play in all and any musical situations that came my way! Playing with others is what it’s all about. Yes, you’ll have ‘situations’ where it doesn’t work for you, but if you have the right mindset these will be learning opportunities...(y):)
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
Take the plunge!

Don't worry about being nervous, we were all crap when we joined our first band. If you weren't, you're lying! Only way to become a good musician is to get good at playing with other musician!

All part of the fun and games. You learn to handle nerves and after a while you stop being nervous.
 

The Shepherd

Well-known member
When I host open jams in my garage, I'd say 1/2 of the songs actually end up "ending". Someone screws it up somewhere along the way and the wheels fall off the wagon. No one gives a damn, we have a good laugh and move on. We all know were not making money on playing so there's no stress or pressure.

When we all get it right and everyone plays well, it feels as if magic just happened and it's wonderful. Go out and make your own magic!
 
Top